Arsenal 2 Olympiakos 1

It may not have been the football that the Emirates faithful are used to seeing, but the records will show that Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s first Champions League strike, which at 18 years and 44 days of age makes him the youngest Arsenal player to have netted for the Gunners. Another Gunners new boy Andre Santos looked to have sewn up what at that stage appeared to have all the signs of a comfortable Arsenal win. However Marouane Chamakh spurned a fine chance to further increase the Gunners’ advantage and when David Fuster ghosted in for a free header to make it a 2-1 scoreline, it was to be a nervy Arsenal that was to eventually prevail.


And the statistics will bear witness to that fact, Arsenal had 10 shots on target, while an adventurous Olmypiakos had five more. Possession was almost even, but try telling that to the nervous Arsenal faithful who saw blue wave after wave attacking Wojciech Szczesny’s goal. The Gunners ‘ keeper was virtually left to guard the Gunners’ advantage himself as Santos, Per Mertersacker, Bacary Sagna and stand in central defender Alex Song tried to keep a mobile Olympiakos attack at bay.


We waited for an Arsenal response, an incisive foray that would soothe the frayed nerves of the majority in the electric Emirates atmosphere. In Andrey Arshavin and Thomas Rosicky, Arsene Wenger has shown much confidence, but here these two veterans of Champions League nights looked lethargic and at times uninterested. Wenger serving his final game touchline ban looked on helplessly, with record goal scorer Robin Van Persie only named on the substitutes bench.


On eight minutes, all looked rosy in the Emirates garden. Song hit a long ball out of defence, and Oxlade-Chamberlain took a touch beyond the attentions of three defenders before applying a sweet left foot finish. Twelve minutes later Arsenal doubled their lead. Santos was in an advanced position and from Rosicky’s pass, the Brazil defender found the target


We waited for more Arsenal goals, but roared on by a passionate following, Olympiakos struck. Mikel Arteta’s intelligence to make a goal line clearance, preserved the Gunners’ lead but it wasn’t to last. From a corner that was not defended in any way shape or form as the visitor’s scored. Fuster was in acres of space to head beyond an angry Szczesny as we once again feared for Wenger’s fragile defence. Only more by luck than judgement, it and Arsenal held firm. Vassilis Torosidis curled a shot onto Szczesny’s cross bar, but Arsenal saw off any further Greek tragedy and that will give them heart. Wenger remains in charge of a team that remains very much a work in progress.